Funds push from Ergotel

ONE year after receiving seed capital of $400,000, software company Ergotel Pty Ltd is seeking a new set of funding to commercialise its product.

In May last year Ergotel was given funds by the Technology Park-based Entrepreneurs in Residence to develop its voice recognition technology for company telephone systems.

That investment was made possible by the Federal Government’s Building on IT Strengths (BITS) program, which is part of the so-called social bonus resulting from the Telstra 2 share offer.

According to Ergotel CEO Rick Ferdinands, the technology is intended to plug the gap between a company’s need to receive orders and the lack of staff available to do this. It combines speech recognition software with common touchtone features to handle transactions that take less than two minutes to complete.

Ergotel proposes three main benefits of its software: it lowers the cost of hiring people to answer calls; it speeds up message delivery; and reduces bottlenecks in message handling.

Mr Ferdinands said many companies had spent a significant amount of money encouraging their customers to use the Internet, but needed another cost-effective, automated system to handle the needs of non-Internet users.

“Using the Internet is too big a cultural change for some people, and there’s a need for education with new technology,” Mr Ferdinands said.

“Why not use existing technology to do the same tasks and leave people in their customer zone?”

In a similar manner to Internet ordering systems, Ergotel’s product allows customers to place their orders at any time on any day of the week.

The voice recognition software records messages and then delivers them to the appropriate employee by either short mess-age service or email to a phone or computer.

Callers also receive instant acknowledgement that their order has been taken.

Mr Ferdinand is confident Ergotel’s target market – WA’s SMEs – will receive the product well, and he predicts that once the company receives commercialisation funding, it will be revenue positive within one year.

“The challenge for us is to market it to as many people as possible in the shortest time possible,” he said.


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